Kentucky Targets At The NBPA
Brandon Knight- Lined up against Joe Jackson in the morning session and Kyrie Irving in the evening session, Knight left no question as to who the top dog is at the PG position. A strong kid who plays the game fast, he attacks with straight line speed that can't be stopped by any point guard on the high school level. Not only is he speedy, he's determined, hits jumpers from between 12 and 20 feet in flurries and finds some time to make plays for others. At times this spring/summer he's gotten caught up looking for his own shot a little too much, but there was none of that on Thursday. Wherever he ends up, he plays immediately and he's likely going to be the most talented player on the floor (for either team) more often than not.
Roscoe Smith- Smith was another guy that was tough to get a good read on during the first day of play. A long armed wing, his athleticism is clearly high level and he makes some things happen around the rim despite his very lean frame. He runs the floor and plays hard, but his jumper looks to be a question mark and his results are consistent. In fact, you almost have to wonder if he really isn't more of a natural power -- with some faceup skill -- than small forward at this point.
Jelan Kendrick- After an impressive outing during April at the Real Deal in the Rock, Kendrick was quite impressive on Thursday. Essentially functioning as a point/small forward, the Atlanta product made play after play off of the dribble. Although he's not as tall as Jalen Rose, Kendrick plays a similar game that is based off playmaking in the lane, knocking down enough jumpers to keep defenders honest and being just a little more athletic than you think he is. At the rate he's going, Kendrick is going to be awfully tough to keep out of the McDonald's All-American game.
Kyrie Irving- The first time he touched the ball in the morning session, Irving blew right by West Virginia bound Noah Cottrill for an easy bucket. After that, he seemed content to settle for deep jumpers that missed the mark during his first game of the day. During the evening session, Irving matched up with Brandon Knight. Save for a short flurry of playmaking and hoops during the second half, it was another really quiet outing for Irving as Knight got the better of him. Now, it's quite likely that his spring blowup has set expectations for his performance a little high, but……it's also a safe bet that he'll look better on Friday and Saturday.
Joe Jackson- There's two things that you simply can't do with Jackson. 1) You cannot question his toughness. 2) You cannot sleep on his quickness. If a defender takes his eyes off him or wanders for even the smallest fraction of a second, Good Night! Much tougher attacking the rim than a guy with a frame as slight as his should be, Jackson is a natural scorer. His jumper isn't perfectly textbook, but it's a lot better than given credit for and the key is that defenders have to respect him as a shooter because if he gets on a roll, then there's no hope in stopping him. As usual, his playmaking for others remains a little underrated.
Adreian Payne- Playing against the massive Fab Melo in a Thursday evening game, Payne did a nice job of dealing with lots of size. Known to stray from the paint at times, Payne actually posted strong around the hoop and from time to time he was even rewarded with a post touch (usually courtesy of Craft) and did some work. He showed nice footwork on some quick spins for lefty jump hooks, skied for offensive rebounds and threw in the jam of the day when he totally posterized Melo with a two handed slam plus one. All in all, a nice outing for Payne.